Have you heard of a Bible verse that reads: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”? (Luke 6:45) There is a lot of truth to this. In the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of “traveling back in time” by participating in international electrification projects through NRECA International and Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives. Having the chance to travel to a developing nation and witness communities living without electricity is humbling. Having the opportunity to see villagers turn the lights on for the first time is life-altering. My heart has been so full with these experiences, it’s no wonder that seems to be all that I talk about lately.
As communicators in the electric cooperative industry, it’s likely we have done research or have interviewed someone who remembers when the lights first came on. Those who still remember life without electricity in our communities are steadily fading away. There are only a few who recall the movement behind rural electrification and the unity and strength that it took for pioneers to electrify rural America. Younger generations are moving to “the next greatest thing:” technological innovation. In an ever-increasing digitally driven society, today’s co-op consumers demand reliable and affordable electric service so they can accomplish their personal and professional goals.
Communicators are on the frontlines of the industry and must be equipped to effectively communicate the cooperative difference to a dynamic membership. It is our privilege and responsibility to tell the co-op story by carrying their message to every member at the end of the line. Co-ops are special; their philosophy is a belief in empowering communities by improving quality of life both at home and abroad. At the core, the premise of cooperatives is neighbors helping neighbors.
As a certified cooperative communicator, you have an instrumental role at your co-op. Yours is a great task and one you will accomplish with excellence if you believe in the mission and purpose behind the industry you serve. Whether it’s making a difference in your local community or across the borders, co-ops are committed to improving lives and you’re an ambassador for this mission. To quote a dear friend whom we lost recently, “it’s important to wake up in the morning and know that your work matters” (Justin LaBerge/NRECA Communications). With that kind of passion, your mouth will speak of what your heart is full.
Chair, CCC Board of Directors
Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives